Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Readings – Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2,8-18; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56

From the Penitential Order found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, p, 351:

Jesus said, “The first commandment is this:  Hear, O Israel:                                              The Lord our God is the only Lord.  Love the Lord your God                                                with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and                                          with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor                                              as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than                                                these.”                                  

Mark 12: 29-31

These words have been a part of the Episcopal liturgy for centuries.  In seminary class, there was a concern that these words were not included in our every Sunday worship, and were only included in the rarely used Penitential Order.  One professor had us recite it regularly, and sometimes he had us modify it to the following:

…Serve the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,                                   with all your mind, and with all your strength… serve your                                            neighbor as yourself. 

He thought this made more explicit the need to act on our love by serving God and by serving our neighbors. 

The tradition of service goes back to our ancestors, the ancient Hebrews.  As we heard in our reading from the prophet Isaiah and from the Psalmist, God chose our ancestors to serve.  In poetic language the texts speak of God as the vineyard owner who plants on a “fertile hill”, clearing the land, planting a protective hedge around the vineyard, and building a tower to protect the property and watch over it.  The owner then plants “choice vines”.  Yet, instead of the selected vines maturing and producing a rich harvest, the property produces “wild grapes”.  The vines went rogue.  Instead of serving God and neighbors, the ancient Hebrews sought to rule, conquer, to dominate as the chosen people of God.  They sought privilege, rather than service.  They ignored their God and their purpose.  They took advantage of the gifts of God for their own purposes; they perverted their chosenness.  

So, God re-calibrated; God re-adjusted.  The texts state that God removed the protective hedges and the watchtower and abandoned the vineyard to “briars” and “thorns”.  The vineyard was laid waste. 

And the years went by according to Isaiah and the Psalmist: 

Then came the angel Gabriel to a young girl of Nazareth.                                                  The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the                                        Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be                                                  born will be called holy, the Son of God.         

Luke 1: 35

God entered into human history in a new way in Jesus of Nazareth.  He would return to the overgrown and forgotten vineyard, plow through the briars, the thorns, the weeds, and accumulated debris, and begin afresh.  He would blaze a new path; he would be a trailblazer and push aside like a steel plow through tough sod.  The Gospels tell the story of how difficult it was for the children of the chosen Hebrews to reimagine their chosenness.  Jesus pushed aside the error of their privileged chosenness, and instead proclaimed the chosenness for service. 

                       …Serve the Lord with your God with all your heart, with all                                        your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength….  

  Serve your neighbor as yourself. 

Jesus spent himself; he spent his entire life, breaking new ground, and he spent his entire life plowing a path in service for his disciples, and for us, to follow. 

From our collect for this day, he was for us    

…a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life…

When we follow the path he plowed and trod, we love and we serve. 

One of my favorite images is that we are called to serve as the leaven in the loaf.  Our lives are to impact those around us, the other ingredients of the loaf.  I found this in a cookbook.

How yeast (leaven) rises.                                                                                                             Yeast, when mixed with flour or sugar and liquid, creates an                                          alcoholic fermentation that converts the starch into carbon                                             dioxide.  Instead of letting the gas escape, the gluten captures                                      it and stretches, making the dough rise.  When the bread is put                                       into the oven to bake, there is one last burst of fermentation,                                             called “oven spring,” and then the yeast dies.  The gluten then                                            sets and bakes to its browned, finished loaf.                                                                                                                  

The New Basics Cookbook, p. 613

The yeast does its work in forming the bread and then it disappears.  Now the other ingredients can be quite varied.  Ingredients for multi-grained bread can include the following.    

Water, sugar, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, granola cereal, seven-grain cereal, salt, vegetable oil, honey, and cooked grain. 

This is quite a variety of items that will be touched by the yeast as it does its work, as it serves to produce the loaf. 

We are chosen by God to serve as Jesus of Nazareth came to serve.  We are to serve here in Selinsgrove and beyond to leaven the loaf, to make it rise, so it will nourish life on this planet earth.   

!We have been chosen by God!

…Serve the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…

Serve your neighbor as yourself. 


Similar Posts